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Spring trip will be largest group of JCU volunteers in New Orleans

February 15th, 2007

From May 21-29, an expected 120 John Carroll University students will make the 18-hour drive to New Orleans to help with the relief efforts of the destruction left by Hurricane Katrina.

Over 18 months since Hurricane Katrina devastated the gulf coast, many homes and neighborhoods remain in shambles.

Increasing crime rates, education and the environment have become major concerns.

Smaller groups of JCU students have visited disaster sights five times since the Hurricane hit, working with other Catholic charity organizations to restore and rebuild homes. Volunteers mainly gut the homes, removing drywall and ceilings covered with mold, appliances, furniture and remaining debris.

Among the charities that participate in the restoration is Hope Worldwide, an organization responsible for gutting and restoring homes.

Hope Worldwide is an international volunteer organization that works to bring community-based service programs to the poor throughout the world.

Volunteers of Hope Worldwide visit some of the world’s poorest and most needy areas. They provide the people of these areas with assistance in the form of health efforts, education and other programs.

Much of this organization’s efforts are concentrated on relief work for places that have seen natural disasters, including the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts in which JCU students will participate.

Volunteers will stay at Camp Hope, an elementary school close to St. Bernard Parish where the most significant destructions occurred.

JCU’s Campus Ministry and the Center for Community services are sponsoring the sixth trip to the ninth ward of New Orleans.

Veterans of the project sophomore Chester Banaszak and senior Pete Aubry have been organizing the May trip, originally planned for spring break.

This trip will allow for more time and for more students to volunteer. Banasnak, who has visited the site five times already, said that though much progress has been made, “we are planning a trip right now for May, which shows how much more work needs to be done.”

Banasnak remembers the first time he visited the ninth ward, four months after the hurricane, when he and other volunteers could not even get into the neighborhood because of the disastrous conditions. “Neighborhoods that used to exist are now just grass. We are hoping to help restore those houses, so there is plenty to do for newcomers.”

Aubry will make his fourth visit to the ninth ward. He noted that the people of New Orleans are optimistic.

“They have so much hope for their city. They know the feeling of New Orleans will be back. Anything we can do to help is necessary and so much appreciated.”